Western Carolina returns to .500

The Lady Catamount Soccer team returned to the .500 mark and won their first Southern Conference win of the season last week. Western started off the week against the 32nd-ranked Nebraska Cornhusker and took them to double-overtime before falling 1-0 in front of 352 fans at Nebraska Soccer field.Western Carolina showed signs of fatigue by failing to get a single shot in the first half of the game as Nebraska held an 8-0 edge in shots in the first half, but held the Lady Cornhuskers scoreless by halftime. Western’s best chance of the game came in the second half with less than 17 minutes left as a long throw-in by Nikki Lombardo caused Nebraska’s Shannon Dickerson and Lindsay Poehling to collide and Buki Baruwa blasted a shot on goal that was blocked. Shannon Schmoker got the rebound and put it on net, which Sophomore goalkeeper Jamie Kalges stopped point blank and made the save to force overtime. In the first overtime, each team almost found the net for the win as the Lady Cats mounted another attack on the Nebraska defense. Lombardo launched a shot on goals, which Klages was able to get a hand on and knock out of bounds 3:01 into the overtime. With a 1:02 left in the frame, junior Jessie Bruch headed the ball to teammate Brittney Timko on a free kick. Senior keeper Alesha Row dove in to save on to keep the shut-out alive. In the second overtime, Nebraska showed why they are one of the best teams in the country, by turning up the pressure that resulted in Timko finding Bruch for the game-winner and a 1-0 win over Western. The Lady Cornhuskers out-shot Western 18-to-6 and a 5-to-3 advantage in corner kicks. Row had a great game in net for Western, saving 7 shots, with a number of them keeping Nebraska off the scoreboard. For the Lady Cornhuskers, Kalages earned her second shut-out of the season by stopping just two shots. Western Carolina started off Conference play with a bang by opening up with a 1-0 victory over the Wofford Terriers in front of 732 fans at the Catamount Athletic Complex. It took the Lady Cats very little time to get on the scoreboard as senior Heather Dittmer took a corner kick from Arlan Whittle, who made it through traffic and buried it in the left side of the goal for the 1-0 lead at the 11:40 mark of the first half. Wofford did not go away quietly as they made a last-ditch effort with 10 minutes left in the second half as the Lady Terriers turned up the intensity; but Western’s defense was able to stand tall and preserve the 1-0 victory. Freshman Kelly Gulledge made her collegiate debut in goal for Western and earned her first career shut-out making just three saves for the win. Austin Somers also stopped three shots for the Lady Terriers. With the win, Western improves to 8-3 all-time in the confines of the Catamount Athletic Complex. Despite having to wait almost two hours to start their game because of Gardner-Webb’s travel problems, Western made the Lady Bulldogs trip back to Boiling Springs anything but pleasant. Western needed almost all 90 minutes to pull out the 2-1 victory over Gardner-Webb to improve to .500 on the season (4-4, 1-0 SoCon) and 4-0 all-time over Gardner-Webb. The Lady Bulldogs lost their second game of the season to a Southern Conference opponent. Gardner-Webb earned the 1-0 edge early in the first half as Bulldog freshman Sarah Keyser got a corner kick that classmate Franchesca Formagie headed past Catamount Goalkeeper Kelly Gulledge in the 26th minute and went into the locker with a one-goal lead. Western Carolina took very little time to get on track in the second half turning up the offensive intensity but putting six shots on goals before Gardner-Webb could get a shot on goal. The pressure finally paid off in the 67th minute when freshman Bri Cunningham scored her third goal of the season thanks to a give-and-go by Junior Rebekah Mumm and a juke move by Heather Dittmer that assisted Cunningham on the goal to tie the game at one. It looked as though Western might play their second overtime game of the week, but Junior Lauren Atkinson wanted to put the game away in regulation on the game winning goal in the 89th minute. Dittmer contributed to helping on another goal as she played the decoy, opening up Arlan Whittle to find Atkinson and she fired it into the lower right side of the goals for the 2-1 win. Both Western goalkeepers saw time in goal as Gulledge was in goal in the first half and recorded both saves on the day despite giving up one goal in the first half. Senior Alesha Row came into the game at the beginning of the second half, but did not see any shots on goal to preserve the win for Western. The Lady Cats out-shot the Lady Bulldogs 15-to-12, with a 9-5 edge in the second half. Western also had eight corner kicks in the game, six in the second half.